Have you been accused of abuse by a spouse or family member in Louisville, Kentucky? Has a court issued an emergency protective order against you? Your future is on the line. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced Louisville domestic violence attorney at Suhre and Associates for immediate legal assistance.
Allegations of domestic violence can have devastating personal and professional consequences, even if you’re never convicted of a crime. You need to assert a strong defense and protect your figure. Our domestic violence defense lawyers can help.
At Suhre & Associates, we have been successfully defending clients in Louisville against domestic violence charges for more than 15 years. We know that most domestic violence cases lack evidence beyond an accuser’s own allegations. As your criminal defense lawyers, we’ll investigate the accusations and make sure that your rights are protected. Call our law firm to schedule a free initial consultation today.
What is Domestic Violence?
You may be surprised to learn that domestic violence isn’t one specific crime in Kentucky. Rather, several crimes can be classified as domestic violence when a particular victim is affected. Kentucky defines domestic violence and abuse in KRS 403.720 as any of the following acts between family members:
- Physical injury
- Serious physical injury
- Sexual abuse, or
- Assault, or
- Inflicting fear of imminent harm.
In other words, domestic violence occurs when a family member is threatened with imminent harm or harmed in some way.
Crimes of domestic violence can include:
- Terrorist threatening
- Wanton endangerment
- Sexual assault
- Manslaughter, and
The penalties for these crimes become aggravated in domestic violence situations.
What Is a Family Member?
Domestic violence occurs when a family member commits a violent crime against another family member. The term “family member” is more broadly defined that you might think. For the purposes of domestic violence, Kentucky defines a family member to include a:
- Former spouse
- Grandparents, and
- Unmarried couples (i.e., couples who live together and/or share a child).
When a child is involved, anyone living in that child’s home will be considered a family member for the purposes of domestic violence charges.
What Happens When I’m Accused of Domestic Violence?
Kentucky doesn’t have a mandatory arrest law. Just because you’re accused of domestic violence doesn’t mean that the allegations against you will be enough to warrant your arrest. However, the police can arrest you for domestic violence as long as they have probable cause of a crime. If there’s any evidence of a struggle or physical injuries, officers on the scene may decide to arrest you on suspicion of domestic violence. However, an arrest isn’t the only thing you might have to deal with.
Emergency Protective Orders
A family member who claims to have been abused by another family member can also ask the court to issue an emergency protective order (EPO). Allegations, alone, can be enough to get an EPO. A judge doesn’t have to be any other evidence of violence or abuse to issue the restraining order against you. When you are subject to an EPO, you might be prohibited from:
- Contacting the alleged victim
- Committing further acts of abuse
- Damaging or disposing of the alleged victim’s property
- Visiting the alleged victim’s home, workplace, or school
- Visiting the alleged victim’s children or specified family members, at home or at school
- Seeing your own children, or
- Staying in your own home.
A judge can also temporarily strip you of custody of your kids while the allegations of abuse are under investigation.
After an EPO is issued, you have the right to a formal hearing within 14 days. This is your opportunity to prove that the allegations against you are baseless. If a judge determines that there has been no abuse, they will drop the protective order. If, after the hearing, a judge believes that domestic violence has occurred and might happen again, they can issue a more permanent protective order.
Violating a protective order is a serious crime that carries harsh penalties. A first offense is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by 12 months in jail. Always seek the help of a Louisville criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been accused of domestic violence and named in an EPO.
If there is evidence to support allegations of domestic violence, you can be charged with a crime (or crimes) by the state of Kentucky. Domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or a felony. However, you’ll be charged with whatever crime you’ve been accused of committing (e.g., assault, rape, menacing) and face aggravated charges because a family member is involved.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
The state takes allegations of domestic violence and abuse very seriously. Unfortunately, most domestic violence cases lack substantial physical evidence and boil down to “he said,” “she said” arguments. An alleged victim’s persuasive storytelling can be compelling. Without a strong defense led by an experienced attorney, you run the risk of a conviction and harsh criminal and collateral consequences.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence in Louisville
A domestic violence conviction can carry several penalties, which might include:
- Jail or prison time
- Protective orders, and
- Mandatory counseling.
The specific penalties will depend on the underlying crime and any aggravating factors. These could include the victim’s age, degree of harm and injuries, or your criminal record.
Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Kentucky
Domestic violence is a serious offense. A conviction can affect nearly every aspect of your life for years to come. In addition to criminal penalties, you’ll also experience collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are civil and social penalties that exist because you’ve been convicted of a crime. When you have a domestic violence conviction on your record, collateral consequences might include:
- Adverse family law decisions, including loss of child custody or visitation
- Loss of gun ownership rights
- Job loss
- Limitations on job opportunities in the future
- Loss of professional licenses
- Inability to secure public housing or government benefits
- Loss of voting rights, or
So, a domestic violence conviction can affect your ability to work, find a home to live in, and even exercise your right(s) as a citizen.
Defending Allegations of Domestic Violence
Just because you’ve been accused of domestic violence or abuse doesn’t mean that your future is ruined. The state has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to defend yourself. When you trust the experienced attorneys at Suhre & Associates, we’ll make it as difficult as possible for the prosecutors to do their job. We’ll carefully investigate your case and build a defense that undermines the state’s case against you.
Defenses that can help when you’ve been accused of domestic violence include:
- Mistaken identity
- Wrongful accusations
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Lack of evidence beyond the victim’s own testimony
- Unlawful arrest
- Illegal search and seizure, or
- Other violations of your Constitutional rights.
Our goal is to fight the prosecution every step of the way and prevent them from building a strong criminal case against you. When faced with a persuasive defense, the state may be forced to consider a plea or drop the charges against you, all together. Our tenacious approach to your defense can help to protect and secure your future.
Call Our Louisville Criminal Defense Team Today
Allegations of domestic violence will always be taken seriously. You need an experienced domestic violence lawyer on your side. Contact Suhre & Associates for immediate assistance with your criminal case. We have more than 15 years of experience protecting the rights of clients just like you across the state of Kentucky. As your attorneys, we’ll do whatever it takes to safeguard your future.
Call our law offices today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions you have.